3 biggest position battles for Texas football heading into fall camp

Hudson Card, Texas Football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Hudson Card, Texas Football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
2 of 3
Jerrin Thompson, Texas Football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Jerrin Thompson, Texas Football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Field safety

Candidates: Jerrin Thompson, JD Coffey III, Mo Blackwell Jr.

The biggest position on the defensive side of the ball for the Longhorns heading into fall camp likely lies at field safety. Texas doesn’t have one clear answer in terms of the player that should be starting at the field safety position for Week 1 against ULM. There are some quality candidates, but each will have to prove themselves to the staff in the early stages of fall camp.

Field safety was an area of weakness in the secondary in Big 12 play last season for the Longhorns. Texas split most of the reps last season at the field safety spot between Jerrin Thompson and the former Oregon Ducks transfer and converted wide receiver Brenden Schooler.

Thompson looked a little bit green in a wide-open role on this defense, and Schooler didn’t really have all the tools necessary to succeed in every phase of playing this position.

Texas needs a field safety that is going to be able to cover ground deep in pass coverage along with upping the ability of this defense to make some game-breaking plays. Pete Kwiatkowski and Blake Gideon also need a starting field safety that will be able to more effectively diagnose plays from the snap, especially defending the run.

Missed assignments were a crucial failure for Texas at the field safety position last season. But with another year in the system for some of the potential starting field safeties such as Thompson and sophomore JD Coffey III, there should be better results from this portion of the defense in 2022.

At the outset of fall camp, I would give Thompson the edge as he did start to show signs of improvement down the stretch last season. He has the tools necessary to cover the different aspects of playing the field safety position successfully such as good sideline-to-sideline speed and the instincts required to make plays in pass coverage.

I would still expect Thompson to be in more of a specialized role than last season where he is asked mostly to cover ground as a deep safety while spinning off and occasionally lining up closer to the line of scrimmage to blow up plays in the backfield. Coffey and Mo Blackwell Jr. are worth watching in fall camp at field safety too, as both could still get some key live-game reps early this season.

Projected starter: Jerrin Thompson